With the filing of a perfunctory final order, the Connecticut Supreme Court has approved minimal revisions to a 20-year-old congressional map and authorized payment of $89,800 to the special master who produced it.
The order filed Thursday was expected, given the court’s directions to make only the changes necessary to equalize the population of the five districts and complete a task that deadlocked the legislature’s Reapportionment Commission.
In a hearing on Jan. 27, the justices listened to pleas by a lawyer representing Republicans to overhaul a map that initially favored the GOP but has produced only Democratic victories since 2008. They asked no questions.
The map will become official when filed with the secretary of the state, no later than Feb. 15.
The map drawn by Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford political scientist and law professor, makes minimal changes in the racial, political and geographic features of districts and preserves an awkward border known as the “lobster claw.”
The claw is the product of a bipartisan map drawn 20 years ago to set up a fair fight between two incumbents, a Democrat and a Republican left in the same district when the state lost one of its six seats.
Ten years ago and again this year, the bipartisan Reapportionment Commission failed to produce a new congressional map by the state constitutional deadline, leaving the job to a Supreme Court with little appetite for map-making.
As was the case a decade ago, the court hired Persily as special master and directed him to make minimal changes.
Three of the five districts are solidly Democratic, but the 2nd and the 5th are competitive, while leaning Democratic. Republicans have carried those districts in statewide races, including the 2018 gubernatorial election.
Six of the seven justices approved the new map. A seventh, Justice Christine Keller, recused herself. Her son is House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, the co-chair of the Reapportionment Commission.
Persily’s bill covered fees and costs.
“Those charges total $89,800, an amount that this Court finds to be reasonable,” the court said.
The court is sending the bill to the Reapportionment Commission. It will arrive with a terse directive to “promptly remit full payment directly to Special Master Persily.”